Michelin-shod teams McLaren and Williams should have an edge in the hot, sticky conditions at the abrasive Interlagos circuit - the venue for this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix.

Michelin-shod teams McLaren and Williams should have an edge in the hot, sticky conditions at the abrasive Interlagos circuit - the venue for this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix.

Hard on tyres, Interlagos has been known to wear rubber practically down to slicks. The bumpy surface is quite abrasive and requires good grip and durability. As was the case at the previous two races, teams will run medium to soft compounds. Michelin seems to have the edge in the hotter climates but it has to be said that its advantage over Bridgestone is not as big as it was in Malaysia and Brazil last year.

The anti-clockwise circuit presents a physical challenge for drivers' neck muscles and the bumpy surface is something of a car breaker. There are a couple of reasonable overtaking opportunities and the combination of two high-speed straights and a twisting set of infield curves requires a balance between downforce and drag.

Medium to low downforce setups expected

A medium/low downforce set up is generally the norm, although the curtailment of the amount of work permitted on cars between qualifying and race will cause extra complications. Qualifying would normally be run with higher downforce so a compromise will have to be found. The altitude of the track - about 800m above sea level - results in a slight loss of engine power.

Any of the top four teams - Ferrari, Williams-BMW, McLaren-Mercedes and Renault - could win on Sunday. Ferrari is unsettled so far but could return to form at Rubens Barrichello’s home circuit, McLaren-Mercedes remains competitive but somewhat unreliable, Williams-BMW struggles with qualifying and strong-qualifiers Renault lack the speed of the others in the race.

This year, three Brazilians will race in front of their home crowd: Barrichello, Toyota's Cristiano da Matta and Jaguar's Antonio Pizzonia, the latter two in their rookie year. A Brazilian hasn't won the race since Senna was victorious in 1993, and not even a point has been scored by a native driver since Barrichello’s fourth place for Jordan in 1994.

Schumacher plays down Ferrari’s chances

Although Williams-BMW is currently lying fourth in the constructors' standings, behind McLaren-Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault, Michael Schumacher thinks the team has a chance to join the fight for the title. McLaren-Mercedes leads after victories by David Coulthard and Kimi Raikkonen in the first two races, while Ferrari has struggled. Schumacher this week said Williams-BMW could be about to join the Woking squad as strong competitors to Ferrari.

"I have seen a big step forward from Williams at the last test in Barcelona," he said in Sao Paulo. "As we saw early in the championship, the points are not clearly given to one driver at the moment. It is I think open between Williams and McLaren".

Schumacher still sees the challenge to Ferrari coming mainly from McLaren-Mercedes but thinks Williams-BMW could fight back: "After this race or during this race I think Williams will have a much better opportunity. If that is the case, then they will come into the championship as contenders as well, and it will be between three teams rather than two to fight for the championship."

Ferrari is confident that the F-2002 will be good enough to win this weekend, but Juan-Pablo Montoya predicted that a win by the Scuderia was unlikely. He believed Williams was faster and had the edge with the Michelin tyres. However, McLaren also run on Michelins so a three-way fight looks likely.

Original article from Car